Derek Fildebrandt, the United Conservative Party MLA for Brooks-Strathmore, has decided to step down from the United Conservative Party Caucus saying that the party cannot afford to be distracted from the work that needs to be done.

Fildebrandt came under fire for the second time in less than a week for his use of taxpayers’ money.

On nine separate occasions, Fildebrandt expensed restaurant meals on days where he also claimed a meal allowance.

He apologized for the issue, saying administrative errors were to blame and released the following statement:

I take full responsibility for everything that happens in my office. There were some administrative errors in processing meal receipts for staff, constituent and stakeholder meetings, with a potential total of up to $192.60 over a period of 2 and half years. 

I am thankful that this has been brought to my attention. I should have been more careful in reviewing them before signing off. I will fully reimburse any discrepancy and take immediate action to ensure that errors like this do not happen again. 

I take the custodianship of taxpayer’s money with the utmost seriousness.

Late Tuesday, Fildebrandt issued another statement saying he was stepping down from the United Conservative Party Caucus:

I have decided to step down from the United Conservative Party Caucus.

I have worked for more than a year to help create the United Conservative Party, because Alberta needs a new government that can fight for the common-sense priorities of regular people.

During the fight for unification I said that we must put Alberta before our party, and before ourselves.

This young party cannot afford to be distracted from the formative period that it is in right now as we come together as conservatives. I owe that to my colleagues, my party members, my constituents, and all Albertans.

Right now, media controversy is distracting from the work that must be done as the UCP is founded. The UCP Leadership race should be focused on issues of leadership and values, and not on personalities. 

I have made honest mistakes – always doing what I believed was best at the time – and I accept responsibility, and am truly sorry.

As media attention now passes from public issues to private issues, taking responsibility is not enough, and so I have submitted my resignation from the UCP Caucus to our Interim Leader Nathan Cooper.

My time now will be focused exclusively on my family and on the constituents of Strathmore-Brooks, who I am honoured to represent in the Legislature. My family and my constituents are the most important things to me, and I want to do them proud.

I’m a flawed man, and I can do better. If I have let anyone down, know that I have let myself down, and I will prove that that I am the man that I hold as the standard for trust and integrity.

I do this job because I love Alberta, its land, and its people. I will never stop fighting for them.

UCP Caucus Interim Leader Nathan Cooper responded to the resignation saying:

"Earlier this evening Derek Fildebrandt tendered his resignation from the UCP Caucus. I have accepted that resignation.

"I’d like to thank Derek for his commitment to the creation of the United Conservative Party and to the people of Strathmore-Brooks.

"If Derek can live up to the expectations he has outlined in his statement, to the satisfaction of the UCP caucus and to Albertans there would be consideration for a future path for him back to the UCP caucus."

Fildebrandt is currently on leave, taking a vacation outside of the province.